Smash: A Series in Review

 Smash returns tonight with 2 hours of drama in “On Broadway” followed by “Fall Out” over the Broadway production of “Bombshell.” Will Karen Cartwright and Ivy Lynn be replaced as Marilyn Monroe? 

Copyright NBCUniversal

Copyright NBCUniversal

By Tara Moore—

When NBC’s series Smash aired last year, critics were calling it “Glee for grownups.” After the pilot, it appeared that Smash was in fact just that, a little more raunchy, more focused on the music with a sprinkle of sideline drama whereas Glee represented a glimpse of the drama through musical numbers, in high school.

The show’s main character, Karen Cartwright (American Idol contestant and actress Katharine McPhee) was an innocent small-town girl trying to make it in the big city, and playing the part of Marilyn Monroe was her lifelong dream. So when a new production surfaced in New York, naturally she auditioned for the part.

But then there was Ivy Lynn. Played by Megan Hilty, she was the obvious choice for Marilyn with her “bombshell” body and bleach blonde locks. Plus, she was sleeping with the director, Derek Wills (Jack Davenport). Knowing the relationship that existed between Derek and Ivy, while he was fantasizing about the timid Karen Cartwright who auditioned for the part, Ivy started to spiral out of control much like her idol—who of course was also Karen’s idol.

Welcome drama to a show that would be all show tunes without it, the Ivy-Derek-Karen triangle ran so deep that Ivy was replaced in the opening night for the big show, not too long after she slept with Karen’s fiance Dev (Raza Jaffrey). Once Karen discovered Dev’s indiscretion with Ivy, she became a whole new Marilyn.

There’s a whole other cast I’m leaving out—Anjelica Huston as Eileen Rand, Debra Messing as Julia Houston, and Christian Borle as Tom Levitt—but Karen, Ivy and Derek were the main highlights of season one. Sorry Julia, your rekindled affair wasn’t enough to distract me from the unknown spark starting between Karen and Derek.

Fast forward to tonight and a new star is in town; enter Jennifer Hudson. We’ll learn what she’s bringing to the table tonight, but look out for the scorned Karen’s interactions with Ivy.

The first season had its ups and downs, not the least bit owing to the announcement that creator Theresa Rebeck stepped down as showrunner soon after the pilot aired. Then there was the skeptics who questioned the life expectancy of a series based on a single Broadway play.

Rightfully so, we’re heading into season 2 with a bit of skepticism mixed in with our excitement.